That time my players fought Cthulhu with a Tarrasque and an Airship.
So, at the request of a few people on a D&D forum I frequent, here’s the story of how my players faced the summoning of Cthulhu and the subsequent attempt to stop it with nothing more than a stolen airship and a Tarrasque. This will certainly be an extremely long post full of homebrew shenanigans, spelling errors and vastly changing writing which I certainly don’t expect many to read, but hopefully those who do will enjoy it.
Lets start with the players and the world to get some familiarity: Eressi is a planet with 2 major continents; the southern Kingdoms of the United Colonial Confederation (UCC) and the Imperialist National Coalition (now turned Empire) known as the INC. At each of the poles are immense areas of unexplored tundra that spread for thousands of miles. These areas are known simply to all civilizations as either ‘The North’ or 'The South’, and are the most dangerous places in Eressi - not just because of the creatures that are said to dwell there, but the elements themselves.Both major continents stand in a cold war that has lasted for around 100 years. This has pushed both technology and magic to what can only be described as an arcane industrial revolution. Due to the huge oceans and dense fauna that covers both continents, airships and aircraft in general are widely accepted as the main form of transport, both personal and military.
The party currently consists of: Adagio -Kenku Shadow Monk, one of many messengers fro the UCC.
Maru -A Catfolk Pirate on the run from the UCC for 'terrorism and aggressive acts towards UCC military’
Cie -A Human Wizard who arrived in Eressi by reality jumping seemingly through the Realm of the Elder Gods.
Niklas -A Dragonborn Paladin of Bahamut from Aner Keep in the INC, home to the Dragon Riders of Aner.
Vincent -A Human Gunslinger from the UCC. He went AWOL from the military after a fight went bad and now works as a mercenary for hire, currently under the employment of the INC.
Oracle -A Tiefling Bard who recently met the group after being captured by cultists in the North. Originally from the UCC, her business is currently in revenge of the personal type.
Barrowborn Irondrake -An NPC Dwarf Librarian the party saved from cultists and has since been added in as a much loved member of the group (even though I’ve tried to kill him on multiple occasions)
Bellowbrand Irondrake - NPC librarian, brother of Bellowbrand
Augustus Derlith -NPC Gnome Librarian
Lizzie Benjin - Human Librarian
Our party began their journey with specialized aircraft, personalized to their own tastes, but after unfortunate circumstances involving an unknown mass/creature infecting the denizens of Shadowfell, rather large explosions, and a pretty confused island turtle, they’ve currently decided walking seems to be easier to handle, though many are already starting to miss the safety of the sky. Upon reaching the ancient stronghold-turned-city of Blebuff, they first came into contact with a cult they eventually discovered to be devoted to the 'Dreaming God’, which, after much digging, they discovered to be Cthulhu, a being residing the far realms of the Elder Gods. Naturally, after realizing they rather liked the world not consumed by madness, they set off to stop it. Our story takes place after the party had teamed up with a collection of investigators - known as 'Librarians’ - in order to locate and stop the ritual summoning of the Dreaming God to the material plane. After working their way through a very twisted and warped underdark and successfully stopping a Pit Fiend using the weakened planes in the North to emerge and take revenge on Barrowborn and his brother for reasons yet to be explained, they ended up falling into the infected plane of Shadowfell “again”. A hellish fight ensued in which one of the librarians lost the use of her legs, but luckily Maru managed to bury the swarms of infected undead and a gigantic Xenomorphus rex under a mile or two of earth before things got any worse. The party then finally made it to the R'an Coast - a frozen ocean, hidden from the world within the mountains of the North.
Taking refuge inside a battered, old shack half buried in snow, the party considered their options and plan of attack. Both steam powered constructs the Librarians had were gone and one of them (Lizzie) couldn’t walk due to the severe acid burns across her legs. It wasn’t looking good for them. Then, across howling winds, drifted strange, wistful music from beneath the two colossal structures protruding from the mass of ice. Like tendrils, they worked their way upwards into the sky, forming a one-thousand foot high eye that gazed across the cold wastes. Between the two structures floated a perfectly spherical, infinitely black ball, easily three hundred feet in diameter, that pulsed with every chord of the strange melody emitting from the camp below. It didn’t take the party long to figure out how the ritual was being performed. The arcane music sent ripples pulsing up between the eye, using it as a gigantic tuning fork to find the perfect sequence of vibrations that would shatter the sphere and tear open a rift to the Other Realm.
Not wishing to risk any further delays, the group made haste in the blistering cold to the base of the eye, where a large camp had been established. A small collection of airships had been landed along the ice on the right of the camp; the left a maze of tents, mechanical parts and cultists, all moving back and forth through the walkways, heavily armed with rifles, pistols and flak armour. The group successfully infiltrated the camp nearby the ships, with Maru climbing aboard one to use as a quick getaway should they need it. Cie, Niklas and Vincent worked their way forward covering on another as the nature of the music revealed itself. A steel stage, forty feet wide and littered with ghoulish creatures greeted their eyes. Amongst them, stood a gothic bard, covered in hellish makeup and grinning wildly as she directed the gruesome concert. Below the stage, a pile of dead bodies grew ever larger as she pulled up more and more prisoners to sacrifice for the ritual.Suddenly, a Tiefling burst from one of the tents, and made to escape, before the bard clicked her fingers and froze her in place. Pulling her up onto the stage, she look toward the ghouls, their knives bloodied and their eyes hungry for flesh. Before she could react, the party leapt into action. Niklas and Vincent threw themselves onto the stage, opening fire and drawing blades before the bard turned and stepped through a dimension door, leaving them to deal with the ghouls alone. Cultists began running into the fray, opening fire with their rifles, catching Adagio as he shadow stepped onto the stage to assist Vincent and Niklas. Divine magic met piercing bullets as the Paladin took cover behind his shield, blockading the storm of fire from the now unconscious Tiefling. Maru loaded his new home made rocket launcher and began peppering the bard with alchemical bombs in an effort to keep her busy, while Cie sprinted off to begin taking apart the huge transformers sitting at the back of the stage, in a bid to cut the power from the speakers. The bard began hurling spells across the battlefield, laughing amidst the chaos before bringing down a flash of lightning that slammed into the dragonborn, sending sparks crackling across his armour. Looking down, niklas saw the Tiefling in her final moments. Tears rolled down her cheek from her one good eye, the other battered and broken from the spell, before she went limp in his arms. The bard cackled as more cultists threw themselves onto the stage, cocking rifles and forming firing lines at the Monk, Gunslinger and Paladin standing before them. She knew they were coming.Many hours earlier, Cie sent over a familiar to scout the area, which was quickly dispelled as it flew over the stage. Recognizing magic when she saw it, and expecting Librarians, the bard had set up a convincing trap: create the illusion of a Tiefling running away from the stage in a bid to draw out anyone who would be seeking to stop her, and crush those that appear under an iron boot. And it fell into place perfectly. Niklas looked down as the body of the Tiefling became mottled and rotten, revealing itself to be nothing more than an animated corpse under the influence of seeming. Picking her way through the alchemical thorns covering the ground from Marus bombs, she began to press the party to join her. After all, what could a meagre force of adventurers like them have that could stop her? A crack of thunderous metal sparked the air as she spoke, cutting her off mid sentence. As she stood atop the stage once again, she turned back to the battlefield before her. There, emerging alongside the dwarf brothers, both covered in blood, stood the Tiefling she had used in her illusion so readily. Oracle stepped forward, throwing back the arcane music with her own magical six string, her eyes aglow with the fiery aura of a bard scorned. “No more games Ivanka!” she shouted across the booming thunder and clash of music. “You want to play? Let’s play!”
Ivanka clenched her fists in anger before summoning her own bass guitar; it’s edges bladed and spined with dark magic. Their hope restored with the addition of their new allies, the party leapt into action, opening fire on the cultists, ghouls and Ivanka herself with all the fury they could muster; knowing the world itself hangs in the balance. The fight was long and bitter, with the arcane bardic dual flashing across a battlefield strewn with bodies and bullets. Vincent and Adagio dodged round after round while duelling with the two remaining ghouls, before successfully dispatching them both in a flurry of blows and close range firepower. Niklas threw himself at Ivanka, knocking her down the steps leading toward the stage, before plunging his blade into her side with the divine power of Bahamut itself channeled into the blade. A resounding shockwave rippled outwards, both sides giving pause but for a moment before throwing themselves into the fray once again. Arcane explosions rang out as Cie took out a collection of transformers with her sniper rifle and the aid of the paladin’s Wyvern mount before wheeling around to put rounds in the chest of two cultists attempting to open fire on her. Niklas stood over the bleeding body of Ivanka, taking the sword and plunging it deep into her chest. As the life ebbed away from her, a gurgling retching began working it’s way into her throat. Niklas pulled out the blade as blackened ichor streamed from the wound, lashing out as if alive before working its way around the bard’s lifeless body. Before they could react, the cultists nearby began shuddering, dropping to the floor under the same strange affliction, before their bodies tore apart, birthing gibbering, multi mouthed horrors from within. Adagio grabbed Vincent, and reached out for Niklas as Ivanka too tore apart, her arcane form a conduit now for a creature from the Realm of Madness itself. As the mass of tendrils and mouths began to take shape and grow, the party realized they were too late. The screeching, gibbering aberration dredged itself forwards towards them as the music, now playing from some strange otherworldly realm, began growing all around them. Maru shouted over the din to the others and the party began clambering onto one of the UCC airships he’d managed to get running. The gigantic sphere began cracking; shedding itself between the two structures and collapsing into dust, before the reality around both it and the eye warped inwards, tearing a deep score in the fabric of the material plane. Beyond, infinite space; an empty void between stars steeped in a madness that clawed at all who gazed upon it. The ground beneath the airship split as darkness began seeping from underneath the ice. Clawed hands reached upwards, as the Xenomorphus Queen pulled itself out, bringing with it a host of screeching, howling infected that threw themselves across the landscape, blanketing the gibbering horrors in minutes and consuming them into the fold. Shadowfell had broken, and with the weakened planar state now at its worst, the party looked on in horror as the ice below them transformed into a chittering, screaming mass of black and bone.
As one, everyone aboard the ship felt a crack of psionic energy slam into them as a titanic hand reached out from the rift. Grabbing one side of the structure, and towering six hundred feet high, the Dreaming God began pulling itself through the portal; its feet crushing the mass of black beneath them and sending a small tsunami across the remaining ice. Niklas pulled out the ancient stone tablet the party had discovered on Agh Aight, the Island Turtle the week before, and looked across at the madness coursing through the rift into the material plane. Feeling the direction of his god behind him, he shouted over to the others on board. “It’s now or never! I need help activating this. It’s the only thing we have now!”Cie ran over to Niklas, a look of determination in her eyes, before place her hands across the arcane sigils etched in the stone. “If we do this, it could kill you. Are you sure?” Niklas looked back at Cie, and across to Adagio and Oracle, their hands both on the sigil alongside his. “What choice do we have Cie? I have to fulfill my oath.” Adagio looked toward Niklas, and out towards the growing chaos. “Well, lets hope this works.”Cie and Oracle begin channeling what arcane energies they have left within them into the Titan Shard, it’s stone carvings beginning to fill with a deep mystical light at their touch. Niklas summons the last of his divine strength and steels himself for the backlash of the Titan Sigil’s activation with the aid of Adagio whilst Maru heads off towards the engines.
The Titan Sigil cracked, bathing the group in a warm glow before crumbling into a fine dust in the now battered dragonborn’s hands. Wincing from his drained life force, Niklas nods to the others and takes off, using the cloak of levitation to get his as close as possible to the rift, before throwing the dust towards the emerging form of Cthulhu, muttering the incantations of the forbidden spell. The dust streamed forward like a bolt of lightning towards the vast titan now being engulfed and bonded by the black screaming mass below it, slowly beginning to take shape. NIklas looked up at the mountain of Cthulhu, its green skin shifting black, and watched in horror as the tendrils hardened, sprouting sharp spines across them. The Elder God had become infested with the nature of Shadowfell and the hellish horrors that had infected it. Pulling itself out of the rift, it strode forward, looking out across the mountains and letting out another psychic scream as it began drawing upon its new powers, before the world’s biggest attack dog burst into existence and latched onto it’s midriff. A monstrous roar thundered across the Ra’n Coast as the Tarrasque, manifested and bound to the will of the weakened paladin crashed into the ice. It’s claws tore at the ground, before finding purchase and dragging the newly born avatar of Cthulhu back toward the open rift. With a mighty swing, the god grabbed the ferocious titan, easily half it’s size, and threw it out across the frozen wastes. The Tarrasque skidded to a halt before catching itself and rushing its gargantuan bulk forwards to attack again.
“What the hell are we doing?!” Maru shouted into the comms as the two titans slammed into each other. “We need to run!”Vincent gripped the helm tightly and began spinning the ship around. “If we run now, we risk losing everything. We have to fight!”The party held on as the UCC airship tilted sharply, banking back around to support the paladin, now hovering a good distance away, desperately trying to stay in control of the forbidden spell. “Oracle, you think you can grab him if I get underneath?” Oracle, still at a loss for words at what she had just witnessed, nods. “Yes! I think so, just get me close enough!” The Tarrasque bit down into the arm of the Elder God again, pulling it down and dragging it further toward the rift as the tendrils scraped across it’s armoured carapace. With another scream of psionic energy, a huge clawed hand slammed into its mouth, prying open the jaws before they gnashed down again, spraying black ichor across the god’s chest. It’s gaze met Niklas, before the Wyvern slammed its tail into the singure eye protruding from its head. An explosion of blood and viscera sent the beast into freefall for a moment, before the Dreaming God clasped a fragment of it’s mind around both the Wyvern and its master. Niklas found his vision blocked, his body frozen, before his mind focused inwards; his sanity ebbing away as Cthulu played with his mind. The Tarrasque continued to savage it back and forth, before being lifted off the ground and assailed by the spined tendrils, screeching in pain and they plunged deep into the weak spots between the chitin. Suddenly, Cthulhu’s shoulder buckled, but for a moment, as the shadow stepping form of Adagio slammed his fists with all his might into its collor bone. Niklas, sensing the brief distraction, pulled his mind free of the torment and found himself dragged onto the deck of the ship by Oracle.“Niklas, look out!” she shouted, before the tendrils slammed into the belly of the airship, sending splinters of wood and metal falling into the abyss below. “Just keep it busy! We can do this!” Niklas shouted, regaining control of the Tarrasque, and sending it clambering across the chest of the titan, savaging it before being thrown off and crashing into the icey waves below.Suddenly, the deck behind them both twisted, warping in on itself as reality shifted once more, bringing with it a host of gibbering, hissing monstrosities, that lunged across the deck towards the adventurers. The gigantic, bear sized insects scrabbled across the deck before latching onto Niklas and Oracle with reckless abandon. Gunfire burst from the cockpit as vincent opened fire on another one, before the dwarf librarian Bellowbrand, threw himself at it with both daggers drawn. “Hang on lad! I’ve got this one!”The creature shrieked before wheeling around and grappling the dwarf with its pincers, the tendrils secreting a paralyzing venom that the dwarf barely held at bay.
Maru, now desperately using whatever chemicals he could fine to accelerate the engines, looked across at the other two librarians, Barrowborn and Augustus who were also below deck trying to avoid having the engines explode under the strain Vincent was putting on them. “Vincent!” Maru shouted over the radio “I think I’ve got a plan to get us out of here at least! Just give me the signal!” Turning to Augustus, he signalled for him to get the concoction ready. Bellowbrand, hearing his brother’s shouting over the radio looked to Maru, nodded, and drew his longsword.
A monumental crash shook the ship at the Tarrasque landed on the ice, lashing out again as Cthulhu stepped away from the rift. Tearing into its leg, the monstrosity held fast, digging it’s claws into the ice and held it’s ground. The god, now slowly growing in power as it began warping the reality around itself, reached down and slashed across its face, gouging a deep groove in the heavy armour plates, but to no avail, as it’s titanic counterpart threw itself into the rift, pulling the Dreaming God with it. As the rift began to close, Cthulhu let out another roar of anger, grabbing onto the two monolithic structures and kicking back towards the Tarrasque, now drifting within the Elder Realm beyond. Vincent, seeing the opportunity, swung the ship around, facing the heavy engines towards the blinded, bloodied eye. “Now Maru!”The engines exploded in a burst of alchemical fire as the nitro concoction took hold, lurching the ship forwards as Cthulhu’s head rocked back from the firey impact. With a final thunderclap, the rift tore itself back together, reality realigning itself as the mists from the battle began settling across the mountainsides. Then a cacophonous psychic shriek filled the air, followed by a bellowing roar, as the bloody, battered form of Cthulhu lifted itself up, the deep leg wounds from the Tarrasques failed grapple dripping blackened undead onto the frozen ground below. With a hefty step forwards, the ground beneath it shook. Cthulhu was here to stay.
Maru emerged from below deck alongside Barrowborn, seeing the chaos and heavy fighting still rife atop the steel floor of the ship. Without skipping a beat, he loaded another round into his bowgun and opened fire on the insectoid creatures savaging Niklas, before the sound of automatic weapons told him Barrowborn had found a shot into the cockpit and was assisting Vincent and Bellowbrand with the creature within. Oracle, freeing herself for a moment from the jaws of the hideous creature chittering between her and the cockpit, she took aim, sending a flurry of eldritch bolts cascading across its back, before a crack of a rifle punched a first sized whole in it’s abdomen and it fell limp on the floor. Cie reloaded and took aim again, emerging from below deck after looking after the wounded, ready to finish the fight. Gunfire erupted across the deck as one by one the otherworldly manifestations fell to bullet, sword, and brutal hand to hand combat. After a few more tense minutes of fighting a well place shot from Vincent saw the last invader collapse into a gooey mass on the floor of the cockpit before shifting back into it’s own reality. Reloading her bolt rifle, Cie looked out past the mountains to the Eye at the End of the World. “So what now? We can’t just leave it there!”Vincent looked across at her, blood-soaked and bruised. “I don’t know. We need more help to fight that thing, and we’re out of options” Nikolas leant in, exhausted from the fight, his armour littered with dents and ichor. “We regroup, and we work out our next move.” Cie nods solemly. “Fine” she said looking over at the others. “I think we need to speak to Dreven.”
When I made the decision to move back up north, my mom got all the practical and logical reasons why I made the decision that I did. There were other bits to that decision that I couldn’t explain to her back then because I couldn’t explain it to myself.
I have the words now.
One of my favorite pastimes is to simply get up in the middle of the night, choose a general idea of a direction (north, south, east, or west) and drive in that direction. I did this a lot as a teen, usually with friends. Nowadays, I go solo. Down south, I didn’t do this as often because it would often be hours of straight shot driving with reflective signs and reflective road paint and it was always flat as fuck.
Up here though… Inevitably, I wind up in some small ass town that’s so filled with history, it’s done spilled the fuck over and soaked the countryside. Every farm house has electric candle shaped lights in the windows, every village center has a thick green patch with a gazebo in the center, and there are at least three churches in the center with steeples.
It’s honestly amazing.
But the best part of this are the routes that take you out of town.
They’re always narrow “two” lane roads with dips and divets that make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster. Honestly, the “two lane” is really a suggestion. It’s probably more like a one and a half lane road. There’s just no way two cars could ride abreast with one another.
The speed limit fluctuates between 25 and 55. On one side there’s a wall of thick trees with about a two to three foot gully between the road and that wall. On the other, houses pop out of the darkness like beacons in the night. They’re gone while you blink. And sometimes it’ll be a wayward gas station with sun bright lights around the gas pumps and signs advertising diesel but not a single sign of life.
The best is the pitch blackness as you’re getting the shit kicked out of your shocks, out of your back as your seat twists a little with each new surprise. You can feel every pebble, every dip, every crack in the road that’s probably only been asphalted over in the last 40 years, just once, and won’t ever see a repair crew.
That road is scary as fuck.
It’s every horror movie trope. It’s every second before the killer steps onto the road with axe in hand. It’s every time the alleged heroine is screaming for help down a narrow, unlit country lane. It’s every single moment where the car has broken the fuck down in the middle of nowhere, cell service is on the fritz, and the group of people are walking straight towards the killer’s lair.
You wind up driving towards the middle of the road, knowing that you have to give a wide berth between your car and the obvious ghosts that haunt the forest. I mean, as pitch black as it is? As thick a wall of trees as there are? H-a-u-n-t-e-d. It’s so obvious.
As I’m driving down these roads, I’m always thinking about Camp Crystal Lake and waiting for Jason with his mask and machete. Or I’m cursing myself, heart pounding a million miles a minute, for once again driving down to the middle of nowhere just to become another statistic. Or I’m wondering what sort of colonial times murdering soul sucking demon is going to own my soul at the end of this. Or I’m worried about moose because sometimes realistic concerns happen.
And I always wind up finding my way out of that place, whole and alive and soul intact. And I fucking love that shit and I don’t even know why but it’s thrilling and makes me happy and is yet another reason why I moved back up here nearly a decade ago.
Is there a specific position the altar has to be in? Like north south west etc?
Coming from a secular standpoint - no. This may vary from different traditions or religions but I don’t think it really matters for the most part. ALTHOUGH you can place an altar in a specific position to work with the energy of that direction (or element if you associate elements with positions).
The other side of the moon , hollow earth and if all the ice melted north and south what do you think would be found .
Dark side of moon is probably like Manhattan, there probably are people living inside the earth, if the ice melts we won’t get to see what’s north or south. east or west for that matter. But I’m sure we would find interesting things. Didn’t they just find a UFO under ice in Antarctica?
occurs in the far Northern Hemisphere, north of the taiga belt. The word “tundra” usually refers only to the areas where the subsoil is permafrost, or permanently frozen soil. Permafrost tundra includes vast areas of northern Russia and Canada. Arctic tundra contains areas of stark landscape and is frozen for much of the year.
“No!” said he, “I put it to the touch once, and I lost it all. Let her go, — with her stony heart, and her beauty; — how set and terrible her look is now, for all her loveliness of feature! She is afraid I shall speak what will require some stern repression. Let her go. Beauty and heiress as she may be, she will find it hard to meet with a truer heart than mine. Let her go!” And there was no tone of regret, or emotion of any kind in the voice with which he said good-bye; and the offered hand was taken with a resolute calmness, and dropped as carelessly as if it had been a dead and withered flower.